A comparison of short-term changes in health-related quality of life in thyroid carcinoma patients undergoing diagnostic evaluation with recombinant human thyrotropin compared with thyroid hormone withdrawal

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Mar;91(3):878-84. doi: 10.1210/jc.2005-2064. Epub 2006 Jan 4.


Context: Thyroid carcinoma requires lifelong monitoring with serum thyroglobulin, radioactive iodine whole body scanning, and other imaging modalities. Levothyroxine (L-T4) withdrawal for thyroglobulin measurement and whole body scanning increases these tests' sensitivities but causes hypothyroidism. Recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) enables testing without L-T4 withdrawal.

Objective: Our objective was to examine the impact of short-term hypothyroidism on the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patients after rhTSH vs. L-T4 withdrawal.

Design, setting, and patients: In this multicenter study, the SF-36 Health Survey was administered to 228 patients at three time points: on L-T4, after rhTSH, and after L-T4 withdrawal.

Interventions: INTERVENTIONS included administration of rhTSH on L-T4 and withdrawal from thyroid hormone.

Main outcome measures: Mean SF-36 scores were compared during the two interventions and with the U.S. general population and patients with heart failure, depression, and migraine headache.

Results: Patients had SF-36 scores at or above the norm for the general U.S. population in six of eight domains at baseline on L-T4 and in seven of eight domains after rhTSH. Patients' scores declined significantly in all eight domains after L-T4 withdrawal when compared with the other two periods (P < 0.0001). Patients' HRQOL scores while on L-T4 and after rhTSH were at or above those for patients with heart failure, depression, and migraine in all eight domains. After L-T4 withdrawal, patients' HRQOL scores were significantly below congestive heart failure, depression, and migraine headache norms in six, three, and six of the eight domains, respectively.

Conclusions: Short-term hypothyroidism after L-T4 withdrawal is associated with a significant decline in quality of life that is abrogated by rhTSH use.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain
  • Quality of Life*
  • Radiography
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Thyroid Hormones / deficiency*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / classification
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyrotropin*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Thyrotropin